Jill Duggan

My wife, Jill, deserves to get a makeover for a variety of reasons.  The ones that stand out the most, for me, are what Motherhood has entailed for her, what she does for other children in her community and what she does for children she has never met.

Like many other mom’s, Jill has had to make sacrifices out of love for her children and has opened her heart to everything that raising a child can entail.  She married me and had our first child when we were nineteen years old, while I was just a Freshman in college.  She worked multiple jobs and arranged for daycare at times throughout the remaining three years that I worked to complete my Bachelor’s degree.  She did it because it was going to serve as an example to our child throughout his life.  She finished her Associate’s degree in the summers while I worked full-time because that would again serve as an example of follow through for her son as he grew up.  When our son was 5 years old, she gave birth to our daughter, and only 11 months later gave birth to our second son.  She now had 3 children to feed, bathe, do homework with, attend school functions for, take to sports practices and games, to love, to nurture and to teach right from wrong... and with the exception of a few hours on the weekend, without any help from me.

None of this, however, could have prepared her for the Mother she was about to become.  In 2007, just after our first born, Sean, turned seven years old, it was discovered that he had an aggressive tumor growing in his spinal cavity.  It was surgically removed and he was diagnosed with Rhabdoid Cancer.  It is a very rare and extremely aggressive cancer with almost no survival rate.  Now the little baby she had with her since she was nineteen went from a happy, go-lucky active child to a cancer patient, a fighter and an example to all of those around him, adults included, as to how we should live our lives.  Now being a Mother meant all of the worry and love from before but with new worries of things she never dreamed she would be confronted with.  She somehow continued to have Faith as she spent every day going to and from Children’s Memorial, enduring painful questions from her child that no Mother should have to talk about with their child.  She watched him suffer and could do nothing but love.  When her little ones tried to understand why their big brother was so ill, she comforted them with ‘a Mother’s love’.  In all of this, she still had to provide her little ones with as normal a childhood as possible, attending school plays as if everything was ok, telling them that they could sleep knowing everything will be ok even though her heart was breaking through it all.

Sean passed away in 2009, at the age of 10.  Jill could no longer physically be a Mother to him.  She could no longer cheer him up in the hospital or do anything to help him fight.  She decided that no matter how painful the last two years had been, she had to continue to use her love that had comforted the child she missed so much.  She decided to do it by helping other children faced with cancer.  She set out to comfort children like him and decided that bringing toys to the hospital each year on his birthday would serve to put a smile on other children’s faces.  These innocent children were also fighting cancer and enduring treatments and hospital stays while they would rather be out playing with their friends, like they did before they became ill.  His birthday came less than five months after he passed and she spent it delivering over 800 toys to the children in the Oncology floor of Children’s Memorial Hospital.  I remember being there and thinking, how can she possibly be here with these kids while the loss of her son is so raw in her heart?  How can she comfort these mothers, fathers, siblings and children fighting to beat cancer without falling down in tears?  It is that day that I learned the true strength of a Mother’s Love.  It comes in many forms; the teaching of morals and how to be a good person, putting band-aids on booboo’s, sacrificing so that your children can benefit…… and doing what is needed for children at all times, even if they are not your own, even when it hurts so much that you just want to run to avoid the pain, the courage to expose your heart, to put it to the test, and to be, a Mother.
Jill is looking forward to having a third great annual toy drive this year.  She has found that being a mother has taken her into other areas new to her, such as coaching, and in a sport that she has never participated in.  This will be her second year of coaching our daughter and her Cheerleading team.  I asked her why she would volunteer to coach something she knew nothing about.  She said it’s not nearly as important to know everything as it is to take an interest in her daughter’s activities as well as the other young girls in our community.  She is there to encourage, to guide, to teach and also to learn along the way – I guess it’s a lot like being a Mother in a lot of ways, and I guess that’s why she’s so great at it.  Jill, I love you and I think you deserve a day just for you!

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